The Paris Opera appeared to be dripping with vintage roses Thursday night for the occasion of the 40th anniversary Gala of “L’Arop” (L’association pour le rayonnement de l’opéra de Paris-the Friends of the Paris Opera). The private soirée featured an operatic evening and delectable dinner, and jazz after party hosted by the Galaad Moutoz Orchestra for the sponsors and partners of the famed opera house. Mounting the Palais Garnier stairs that appeared like a “stairway to heaven,” Cédric Guigues and Eric Chauvin had wrapped its storied railings in lush flowers, the scene appeared like a wild garden replete with thorns and petals. Once guests took their velvet seats under the crystal chandelier and Marc Chagall fresco, the Paris Orchestra’s conductor Pier Giorgio Morandi raised his baton to the delight of the full house.
For this spectacular evening, sopranos Pretty Yende, Elena Stikhina, Aleksandra Kurzak, and Maria Agresta, along with tenors Benjamin Bernheim, Michael Fabiano, Xabier Anduaga, and Ludovic Tézier, one by one, appeared on stage to sing a repertoire that included “Tu che la vanità” from Don Carlo (Giuseppe Verdi), “Una furtiva lagrima” from L’Elixir d’Amour (Gaetano Donizetti), “Un bel di vedremo” from Madame Butterly (Giacomo Puccini), and “O mio babbino caro” from Gianni Schicchi (Giacomo Puccini). The Puccini air was sung by burgeoning star Yende, who, had contemplated pulling out of the performance having just recently lost her mentor. She had persevered and her luminous performance was met with rapturous applause.
Though this past year has been rife with national striking, the Paris Opera also affected with artists standing in solidarity, the 2018-2019 season benefited from strong sponsorship with 74,559 people participating in 267 Arop events, and 17 400 000 Euros in fundraising; this, covers 40% of the opera production. Paris Opera director Stéphane Lissner revealed that today, the French government finances only 45% of the annual opera budget. The evening’s gala raised 400,000 Euros for the benefit of the high art institution and was made possible with the generous support of Chanel and Rolex.
The soirée’s guests were treated to the utmost elegant luxury. Following the operatic repertoire, they were invited to sit in the gilded halls of the Palais for a delectable dinner of caviar, foie gras, and truffle by chefs Christophe Larrat and Lionel Lallement. The sopranos and tenors, along with several étoile dancers, including Mathias Heymann, joined the guests for dinner. Aleksandra Kurzak delighted tablemates with details of her professional forays, and globetrotting lifestyle between The Met in New York and Paris where she often performs alongside her husband tenor Roberto Alagna.